Gummis. The Gummis were screaming.

Gummis. The Gummis were screaming.

Gummis. The Gummis were screaming.

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 20 2010 7:00 AM

Gummis. The Gummis were screaming.

Chemistry is awesome.


Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Of course, when this experiment is done, you can no longer investigate Gummi anatomy. Such sacrifices are sometimes necessary.

And before I let you go...

<science pedantry>

[Note added later: apparently, according to a few commenters below, the acid I describe is only needed if you don't heat the perchlorate; they do in fact use a flame in the video. Still, who can resist a bit of chemistry?]

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I think the video leaves out an important part: you need a bit of sulfuric acid to make this work. Adding the acid to potassium chlorate yields chloric acid and potassium sulfate:

2 KClO3 + H2SO4 → 2 HClO3 + K2SO4

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Sugar reacts, um, strongly to the chloric acid:

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8 HClO3 + C12H22O11 → 11 H2O + 12 CO2 + 8 HCl

You can see the water coming out of the test tube in the form of steam -- the reaction is highly exothermic -- and the purple flame is from potassium being heated. At the same time, a second reaction occurs, breaking up some of the sugar molecules into carbon and water. When the flames and sturm and drang are all done, what's left is a black residue: carbon, the burnt remains of the tasty, tasty Gummi bear.

</science pedantry>